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[65] in the rear of Seven Pines. One moment more, and Smith, falling upon the extreme right of this weak line, would give the signal for a new attack, which would probably consummate the destruction of all the Federals south of the Chickahominy.

It was six o'clock in the evening, and the Confederates had more than two hours of daylight before them to complete their victory; but all of a sudden a brisk fire of musketry broke out in the wood to the right of the railroad. The hollow sound of howitzers loaded with grape was soon mingled with it. Smith had encountered a foe entirely unexpected. It was Sumner, who arrived in time to check his progress and resume on this side the game which had been lost on the Williamsburg road. The warrior's instinct, which prompted him to push his divisions forward and mass them in the vicinity of the bridges when ordered to keep under arms, had enabled him to gain an hour, and that hour secured the safety of the army. The new order directing him to cross the Chickahominy to participate in the battle reached him about two o'clock. At that moment the river was already rising as far as the eye could see, seeming to conspire with the enemy to prevent him from going to the assistance of his comrades. The lower bridge had been carried away; the other was entirely submerged, while the unhewn timbers which constituted its flooring, being only held together by ropes, floated about amid the waters, whose impetuous current tossed them in their foam. Sumner himself, despite his inflexible will, was beginning to think that not a single company would ever be able to reach the other side of the river. Nevertheless, he pushed the head of column of Sedgwick's division over this bridge. The first soldiers who crossed found it difficult to keep steady on the moving platform, which was shaking under their feet. But the weight of those who followed soon restored its stability; it soon settled on the piles from which it had been wrenched. The whole of Sedgwick's division crossed it, the officers on horseback; the artillery followed, but most of the guns sunk in the mud in the marshy plains which extend beyond the bridge. Kirby's regular battery alone succeeded in getting safely over. Richardson, who, after having tried in vain to restore the lower bridge, had been compelled to cross at this same point, followed in rear of Sedgwick, but his troops only

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